Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Amberstar: Bird's Eye View

See below for more on this somewhat-inaccurate map.
I wrapped up the last session with 5 pieces of the Amberstar, not yet halfway through, but I still had a few leads. One of them took me to the Dragon Keep, on an island off the northwest coast. Ages ago, the ruler of Illien had asked me to slay the dragon that rules the place and steal his egg to be raised by the giant eagles. Before I could do this "honestly," though, I had to find the sheet of runes in the sewers. This allowed me to properly interpret the statues in Illien, which have the names of past guardians of the city, thus getting past the magic mouth in the Dragon Keep, who asks the name of the second guardian (GELINDA).

Approaching the Dragon Keep.
The fortress consisted of an outer area, an inner keep, and a second floor. In the outer keep, I found a potential NPC companion, a Level 5 halfling thief named Boldin. He might have had better stats than Silk, but Silk was about Level 13 by now, so I couldn't see any reason to take him. He said he was here for the dragon's rumored treasure.
The magic mouth opened the way to the inner keep, where the enemy of the day was "firebirds," very annoying beasts (frankly, every enemy in this game is annoying) who can cast mass-damage fire spells every few rounds. I had to battle a billion of them, find a key to the second floor, and find a statue so that I could provide another magic mouth the name of Gelinda's eagle (LUGTHIR).
Ultimately, we encountered the dragon, which attacked us alone. It was tough, but this is the kind of game where no single enemy is ultimately that much of a threat. Whether he breathes fire or uses a physical attack, he can only attack once per round, and I have five characters who can fight, cast spells, and administer potions in between his attacks. He put up a good fight for a few rounds and then perished.
I like the way the dragon has his hands on his hips, like he's so put out that I'm in his castle.
The dragon's cache included his egg, a piece of the Amberstar, some gems, a lot of gold, and a key called "Jonathan's Key," which I'm sure was meant for Jonathan's villa. How the dragon got it is a mystery.

We turned in the egg to Lord Pelanis in Illien and in return got a magic flute. The flute summons an eagle who will give us a ride on his back. It obviates all other forms of travel and runs no risk of random encounters (not there was much of a risk of those anyway). Unlike the magic carpet in Ultima VII, the eagle flies above all terrain. It's pretty awesome.
Cruising the landscape on our new "steed."
Before we made much use of the eagle, though, we returned to Jonathan's villa and again used his teleporter to return to the secret island, where (as we suspected) his key opened the way to the return teleporter. This allowed us to get his piece of the Amberstar and keep it this time.
That's seven!
At this point, I was largely out of leads (except I suspected I could visit Sansri's Insel now that I had the eagle). I took the eagle to 0, 0 and started exploring in north-south strips, stopping every time I found something interesting. Some highlights:
  • The Shipyard of the Far Isle (44,54). Here, you can buy a ship. But it's on an island that you can only reach by ship or eagle, so I'm not sure why you'd need one. Funny--I just said that about Serpent's Hold in Ultima VII.
  • Altar (49,329). This looks to be where I'll use the 13 pieces of the Amberstar when I have them.
Are you sure 10 isn't enough?
Ranger's Guild (81, 233). Wow, I finally found it. I'm glad I didn't want Viola to be a ranger. I'm not sure that I found a ranger willing to join me there, just the head of the guild, named Annorel.
Annorel greets us but will not join the party.
  • Windgate Hub (119,314). This area consists of a central altar dedicated to Theodorus Bargund, builder of the windgates. There are fourteen of them in the hub, going to different destinations across the continent. At the time I found the hub, the windgates weren't active yet.
  • Mera's House (140, 265) was probably the most important find of the search. It's on the way to Gemstone, but somehow I missed it earlier. Mera is a witch who has enchanted most of her furniture; the chairs scold you when you try to sit in them. If you give her a mushroom, she'll turn it into a potion that raises an attribute. I unloaded all my mushrooms on her and jacked up my strength and speed.
Mera creates a strength potion from a mushroom.
Mera has a cave behind her house. I explored it for a while and found her lost broom, for which she told me where to find the next piece of the Amberstar. It was under a big stone near a frog pond west of the house. That was number eight.
This was the easiest so far.
Amidst some islands in the northern sea, I spotted a whirlpool (146, 11). To get to it, I had to ditch the eagle and return to one of my ships. On the way, I was attacked by krakens. Wilderness encounters are so rare that I didn't even realize sea battles were a thing until then.

In real life, whirlpools are to be avoided, but in CRPGs, they usually bring you somewhere interesting. Amberstar was no exception. We were sucked down and spit out on the shore of an undersea area called Realm of Manyeye.
Arriving in the undersea kingdom. We will be avoiding as many of those octopus icons as possible.
Almost immediately, we were attacked by octopuses--easily the hardest creature in the game, though commenter Sinatar suggests this is because of a bug rather than by design. They last forever and absolutely exhausted my resources. I did my best to avoid any other combats with them, going so far as to save after every step and reload if I made a mistake and got caught by a group of them. They're only worth 33 experience points; they'd have to be worth about 100 times that to make it worth the time.
The Realm of Manyeye has a number of caverns and passages, most of them swampy and poisonous. To avoid poison, you have to avoid the squares that bubble, which requires you to pause every so often and wait for the bubble animation. Swampspiders and swamprats attack while you're trying to thread your way through. Something weird happens with light in the Realm of Manyeye. Since it's supposed to be deep underground, you need a torch or magical light to see. But once you have it active, the light radius expands and contracts with the day/night cycle just as it does topside, even though logically it ought to remain the same the entire time.
Navigating through a swamp at "night."
We soon came to a ramshackle village composed of other people who survived their respective shipwrecks and turned the timber into housing. They call it "Ship's End." There's a general store, a food shop, an inn, and even a temple to the god Sobek. We met a human ranger named Sheba who offered to join the party, but I think I'm locked with what I have. Sheba told me that many of the residents eventually go to the castle of Manyeye looking for an escape; none have ever returned, save one old man living at the trading post.
The village center.
The old man was a thief named Atagar. Decades ago, he and his brother tried to find escape through Manyeye's castle. As they approached, the were horrified to see piles of human bones outside the castle, but no skulls. Atagar's brother went on, but Atagar, paralyzed by fear, waited outside. On the third day, some door opened high on the castle, and Atagar's brother came plunging out, landing in a pile of bones, babbling that the "thousand-eyed fiend" wouldn't "drink from his skull." Atagar brought him back to Ship's End, where he died of infection a few days later.
Atagar relates his horrific story.
Atagar suffers pains in his joins and he begged for an "herb packet." At the time, I didn't know what that was. I tried giving him all of the herbs I had, but he didn't want any of them. Later, I found items specifically called "herb packets," but by then I'd moved on from Ship's End.
Approaching Manyeye's castle.
Through a long, mazelike series of mountains and swamps, we finally made our way to Manyeye's Castle, where the primary enemies were packs of hairy, ape-like creatures called "skullhunters" and umber-hulk-looking things called "mutants." The castle took a long time. The various first-person corridors led to stairways that led to iconographic sections, each with their own encounters and puzzles. The general idea was to find a hidden pressure plate in each of several areas, which together opened the way to the top floor and the final encounter with Manyeye.
"Mutant." Who are you trying to kid?
About halfway through the dungeon, my characters ran out of space for anything. Even picking up an extra scroll meant that I had to drop a few dozen gold pieces. Towards the end, I got to feel like the area was taunting me, offering huge caches of gold that it must have known I couldn't possibly pick up.
There were some gruesome encounters: plenty of skeletons with no skulls, a room full of wine goblets that had been made of skulls, a kitchen where human meat roasted on an open fire. We saved a little girl from a cage only to have it turn into a "doppelgaenger" and try to kill us. When we killed it, it turned back to a little girl and a voice said "thank you for releasing me" as it dissolved before our eyes. Doppelgangers must work differently in this setting than in most.
They also look quite a bit different.
In an ancient bedroom, a journal hinted that "Manyeye" had once been a human mage, obsessed with the secret of immortality (another Ultima VII similarity, if you read my entry in a few days). He cast some great spell on himself and was surprised by the result.
The diary of the mage who became Manyeye.
Just before we met Manyeye, we found a treasure chest with the ninth piece of the Amberstar. Manyeye himself turned out to be a beholder. with exactly five eyes: one large central one and four small ones on the ends of stalks. Fighting him was a bit tough because he attacked from a distance, and he was capable of casting from a distance. He had very little incentive to move forwards, therefore. My black wizard's Sickle of Returning was the only weapon that could hit him. But I kept pelting him with spells, wands, and the sickle until he slowly made his way forward and I was able to kill him in melee range.
"Onebigeye" would have been a better name.
Manyeye dropped the Wind Necklace, the item that makes it possible to use windgates. When I used it, it disappeared and became a permanent part of the interface, so I guess I can't return it to Thonion in Crystal. We soon found a windgate in the dungeon, and I used it to return to the surface world. It brought me to the hub of windgates, previously discovered.
I probably have no need for these now that I have the necklace.
After a long period of selling items, buying items, leveling up, and so forth, the party returned to its previous exploration pattern:
  • On the northern peninsula that also hosts the castle Godsbane, we finally found the Temple of Monks (177, 45), but either I couldn't get in or nothing important happened because I didn't take any screenshots. This would have been relatively accessible from the starting area, if I'd wanted my main character to become a monk, but I would have had no idea of knowing it was there. The map shows nothing but mountains at its location.
  • We found the Fortress of Godsbane (209,48) and the nearby Guardhouse of the Eternal Gods (214, 58), marking roughly the halfway point of the comprehensive north-south search pattern. The guardhouse showed signs of Marmion's recent attack. I could enter Godsbane and explore a few passages, but they dead-ended at a door with a seal in the shape of the assembled Amberstar. Clearly, this area will be important later. 
The guardhouse outside Godsbane shows signs of the recent attack.
At this point, I'll confess that everything I related above happened about two weeks ago as I type this. You may recall that in my last Amberstar entry on 21 July, I said that the narrative represented less than half of the time I'd spent. The story up to this point mostly represents the other half, but I had scheduled that entry pretty far in advance and had done most of the associated playing on 11 July. I'm typing this on 26 July. Compounding matters, I can't find my notes from when I was playing. I usually type them in either a draft entry or notepad file, but in this case I have neither. Probably I forgot to save the notepad file and the computer restarted to implement an update or something, losing it. Thus, I've reconstructed everything from memory and screenshots, both of which lack a lot of detail and particularly lack my reactions to things. If this entry has felt sterile, that's why.
My last major clue about anything has to do with Sansri's Insel, but that clue was related to the Wind Necklace, which I unexpectedly found elsewhere. I tried to land on the island in a previous entry, but found that a ring of mountains surrounded all but a thin crust of coastline. With the eagle, that's no longer a consideration of course, and I can explore the area. I technically landed on the island and noted a Temple of Sansri at 199, 357, before I found the Fortress of Godsbane, but I can only find a couple of medusa-like statues before I run up against a blank wall. The map shows that the wall is a secret door, but I can't walk through it or find any way to get it to open.
Sansri's Insel (as I pick up "live" from here) is more of a compound than a single location, and as I return on my eagle now, I realize I must have been very literal about the exploration pattern if I simply flew off after exploring the temple. The island interior has its own network of roads that meander through patches of farmland and forest; its own lakes and ponds and swamps, where I get attacked by a new creature, the winged snake. They're capable of causing madness, but they don't try until the third round, and I've often killed them by then. If they succeed, I have herbs to counter it.
Exploring the interior valley of the island.
The temple is at the extreme southwest. There's also a windgate at the extreme southeast, and a village called Snakesign in the center. This is the first village I've explored in a couple of dozen game hours, and I hope to find some clues as to the last four Amberstar pieces.
I encounter a woman named Shi'Ra on the streets. She introduces herself as a former high priestess of Sansri. She says that the goddess took "the side of the evil ones" and cast her followers out of the temple. Only she and her "beloved animals, the snakes" remain behind. This turn of events has obviated the quest of Melchior, a monk who came to the island to convert Sansri's people away from her. Melchior will join the party, but he's only Level 4 and I don't need a monk right now. Melchior tells me that the monks serve "Mork, the god of wisdom," which sends the party into fits of laughter, to Melchior's confusion. I can't wait to meet Alf, the god of compassion, and Bender, the god of temperance.
The princess of power!
The shops in town have weird operating hours. For instance, the wise man will only see people from 13:00 to 15:00, the healer is only open from 01:00 to 07:00, and the food store is open from 09:00 to 18:00. The inn is always open, and inside a young man warns us that there are snake symbols on the floor of the temple that cause damage to males but not females. There's something weird going on with the innkeeper's wife. When we meet her on the second floor, she insists that we leave immediately or her jealous husband will become violent. Then, there's a rapping at her window that she dismisses as woodpeckers. Later, exploring the alley outside the inn, we find a ladder propped up against the window. I can't figure out any way to investigate this further, though. I also find nothing to help me in the temple. Selecting a male or female as the lead doesn't seem to make any difference.
Moments later, the "woodpecker" started crooning, "The western wind is blowing fair . . ."

The fixed ladder suggests this happens often.
I'm just about to leave the island in despair when I decide to take another run at Shi'Ra and Melchior and make sure I've considered all the keywords. I find one I missed in my discussion with Shi'Ra, which is ENTRANCE. Shi'Ra tells me that the entrance is sealed, but Sansri opens it "in the middle of the night" so that messengers can get out. I thus return to the temple, park myself in front of the secret door, and start passing time.
Nothing happens at midnight.
The door opens not "in the middle of the night," but a little after 17:00. Winged serpents come spilling out, and I have to defeat three in a row.

What kind of clock is this temple on?!
The rest of the temple consists of a large main level and smaller areas above and below it. Early on, we find a statue that tells us to "find the eight signs." Throughout the levels, we run into eight magic mouths which, when prompted with SIGN, give us a single letter in the game's runic alphabet.
I still don't understand how creatures in this game are speaking runic.
There are numerous encounters with winged serpents. Fortunately, I discovered one of my paladins had a "Cure Madness" scroll, and I was able to memorize it. (Both paladins still have an abysmal success rate, even with skills above 50, but they get it eventually.) There were also a lot of sigils on the floor that caused minor damage (15 points or less) to male party members. Sometimes, there are alternate paths or illusory walls to get me around them; other times, I just have to suck it up.
Stepping on this will hurt 2/3 of my party, or perhaps 1/2 depending on whether the runes take their cues from the party members' hair.
There are a couple of squares, unmarked, that poison and stun male members. There are also numerous walls that open and close on timers, and blockages that require a pick-axe or shovel to clear. We have to check the automap frequently as we explore. Numerous atmospheric messages about statues in contorted positions warn us that Sansri is almost certainly a medusa.
"Realistic statues" is always a bad sign.
I can't tell if this is a joke.
The letters from the magic mouths ultimately spell SERPENTS. When given to a final magic mouth, the keyword opens the way to Sansri's inner chambers. We need a snake ring from there to get through a second door. There, after several combats with winged serpents in the hallways, we face Sansri herself.
Sansri greets us as we enter her chambers.
Speech saturated with sibilant hisses, Sansri praises the party's persistence, then assails us, assisted by eight winged snakes. Although she has a petrification attack (for which I have a couple of scrolls in reserve), she rarely uses it, favoring forward movement in the first two rounds and then physical attacks thereafter. She is immune to magic. We concentrate on wiping out her serpents with mass-damage spells in the first two rounds so we can concentrate on her thereafter. It mostly works. By the time she comes into melee range, I have three fighters, buffed, hastened, and positioned to begin attacks. We defeat her--a god--in a few rounds.
Every enemy except Sansri herself takes damage from a "Fire Cascade" spell.
She isn't dead, just bloodied and exhausted, and she begs mercy. We really have no choice, since there's no "attack" button in the main interface. Chests in her chamber hold a second Wind Necklace, Sansri's Whip, and Sansri's Collar. The latter two items are usable only by female party members but otherwise have no class restrictions.
A god begs mercy from a party that had trouble with giant rats a few weeks ago.
Solely from any desire to backtrack through the dungeon, we begin exploring her chamber for illusory walls, and we find one in the north center. As we walk through, she congratulates us on "knowing everything." She says that the chest beyond the wall has a piece of the Amberstar and a magic scroll that, if used in Bralkur's presence, will banish the demon from the mortal plane. She bids us to take both and promises to stay out of the conflict from here on.
Yeah . . . right . . . we knew that door was there!
It strikes me as I leave that Sansri's Temple is a pretty good RPG dungeon. It's not so large that it's exhausting. It has some good navigation puzzles but it doesn't overdo them. Atmospheric messages enhance the wall textures, which are okay in themselves. You have to become familiar with some lore to succeed. The combats are both individually and collectively challenging, culminating in a satisfying final combat and reward.

I don't even mind the idea of fighting predominantly one enemy. The game's approach has always been to introduce a small number of the enemy at the beginning of each dungeon, then slowly introduce larger mobs. The idea is that the player develops a solid expertise as to what works well and doesn't work well when fighting them, so that by the end of the dungeon, he's up to the challenge of the final battle. I like the variety of enemies in other RPGs, but so often they appear only once or twice, and thus aren't very hard to begin with and are particularly easy fodder for a second-time player.
We get our equipment identified, sold, and restocked, our characters leveled up, and then move on. (Side note: the "libraries" in the wizards' guilds do not restock their inventories of scrolls, making them less of a money sink than I'd hoped.) This entry is already pretty long, but I might as well wrap it up with the major findings:
  • We return to Crystal and give Thonion the second Wind Necklace. He rewards us with 5,000 gold pieces, which we absolutely do not need at this point.
We probably just dropped them immediately.
  • A Dwarf Mine is found at 260, 225. Upon entering, we find ourselves in a top-down area rather than a first-person one. A sign says, "Bora's Mine." A magic mouth wants to know why I'm disturbing its peace and quiet, and I have nothing to tell it. I have no notes on a dwarf mine.
Spotting the Dwarf Mine from the air.
  • We finally find the Tower of the White Wizards (279, 167). There's no particular reason we shouldn't have found it before except that it isn't on the way to or from anything. Like the Black and Gray Towers, there's a magic mouth who wants the name of the founder as a shortcut. Unlike the other two towers, the "long way" isn't full of enemies and multiple levels but rather a series of easy navigation puzzles involving teleporters, spinners, an area where we have to walk on the tops of bones to avoid damage, and an area where we have to find an illusory wall between statues. It's good that it's easy because the guild has nothing we need. The NPC who will join us, a gnome named Crag, is only Level 6 (my paladins, in contrast, are Levels 18 and 21). 
One of the tests in the White Wizards' Tower.
  • We start flying through the northern desert. Just as we abruptly remember the Rose of Sadness that Gwen wanted, we see the door to the Halls of Peace (315, 75), a relatively long dungeon that mixes indoor and outdoor areas. We have to battle umber hulk-like "planthulks," walking trees called "trents," and krakens to find four flowers (clover, rose, lily, and forget-me-not) and bring them to a central temple.
These guys were capable of blinding, but I had spells, potions, and herbs for that.

Yay! I'm "worthy" of something that makes you sad.
The Halls of Peace reward us with the Rose of Sadness, which we bring back to Gwen, who rewards us . . . with clues that would have helped us solve Sansri's Temple, including the existence of the final secret door in Sansri's chambers. She also gives us a "Teleport" scroll, which would have gotten us into the center of the island without requiring the eagle. Oh, well.
She's already suffered enough. We don't have the heart to tell her that her advice is too late.
After I was done with my journeys, I spent more time than made sense trying to reconcile the coordinates I'd found with the official game map. The map has a lot of extra water on the left and right sides (and is thus rectangular even though the coordinates posit a square world), and some of the landmass features aren't drawn to scale anyway. Even after cropping it, I still couldn't find a formula that coerced the coordinates into the precisely correct locations. I finally figured "good enough" when I got them into the general vicinity.
And that, my friends, is it. I find no other locations (that I haven't already found) east of the Halls of Peace. I have no other clues, with the sole exception of returning all the way back to Manyeye's Realm to give Atagar his herb packet, which I can't believe gives me an Amberstar piece. I'm three Amberstar pieces short of a full set. Just for the record, this is where I got my ten:
  1. Firlas in Crystal, after returning to him the magic bone.
  2. The secret hallway in Crystal, after getting the key from Orlando.
  3. The Lord Chancellor's house in Crystal.
  4. The Pharaoh's Tomb, along with the magic disk.
  5. Kelvin in Crystal, after returning his magic harp.
  6. Dragon Keep.
  7. The secret island accessible from Jonathan's Villa (which I never found on the world map, incidentally; it must be in its own plane).
  8. Mera's frog pond.
  9. Manyeye's Castle.
  10. Sansri's Temple.
I will thus accept light hints on where to find the other three, in the vein of "spend some more time in Wherever." Otherwise, I'll have to do a circuit of the towns again, and if I find nothing, look up more explicit spoilers.
Time so far: 41 hours


  1. You have found a dwarven mine you couldn't enter, lacking a password. Who could know that?

    You could already have gotten leads on the other two pieces during this entry, but probably didn't exhaust all dialogue options.

  2. Well then, hopefully this is light enough. Grill the following people about the Amberstar:

    * The dwarven jewelry trader.
    * Atagar. Believe or not, you do need to give him that herb packet.
    * Annorel.

  3. I never had Mork or Sheba in my party. Next to the fact that you usually find them when your level is much higher, there is also no reason to have a Ranger or Monk in your party. I played as each of those classes, but put bluntly, they suck. They are worse than even Paladins in both, casting spells and fighting. Also none of them can really replace a thief, especially when you can only wear one silver ring.
    Paladins are also mostly worthless, but there's at least Sir Marillions stuff. A Fighter always has twice as many attacks almost from the beginning since they level faster and get an extra attack every 3 levels instead of 5 for a Paladin. You could have swapped Gryban for Torg early to have Holy Word. Too late and doesn't matter now. The class balancing is a bit messed up, though. The additional options of mix classes are countered by higher experience needed, more skills needed, lower skill maximums, less HP, and also less attacks. Getting them ready to reliantly cast spells requires level 25 or something. That in combination is just too much, fighters simply are best (I did the math on my website). But in the end, that's more about enduring enemy attack animations than beating the game.

    1. About the possible party members: there are situations where Satine or Boldin decline joining. I never found out, why.
      I tried everything with a hex editor to get other NPCs in my group, but while it's possible to activate the button to invite each one and they have full stats and everything, they won't join. Too bad, I always wanted Sir Marrillion take his revenge. Didn't find a way to change portraits either...
      Ambermoon has better tools, but since the file format is similar, that should be doable...

    2. Encountering the ranger and monk late in the game is probably somewhat inevitable, at least for a first-time player, but I wonder how many other players miss the White Wizards' Tower until late in the game just because they had no particular reason to go in that direction.

    3. I was actively looking for the White Wizard tower early in the game, in an effort to replace Gryban, which I was trying to evolve as more of a support paladin and he was sucking hard at both combat and support.

      The map showed a building in that location and it was relatively close to Twinlake, so it was the very first location I checked.

    4. There is no real way to get them in time, never tried Manyeye's realm before around level 15. And even though I usually do the dragon as early as possible, Melchior is easily outlevelled by then. No loss though, the classes are subpar and party members are silent after joining.
      Just missing a bit of diversity after several playthroughs with the same faces.

    5. I remember getting the white wizard companion early and unlocking the white tower first - the gray wizard eluded me forever, for some reason. Playing with three wizards, I seem to remember that my party lacked a lot of sheer combat power in the frontline.

  4. "I have no other clues, with the sole exception of returning all the way back to Manyeye's Realm to give Atagar his herb packet, which I can't believe gives me an Amberstar piece."

    Don't be so dismissive; give him the herb packet and be sure to talk some more about his brother.

    You didn't spend enough time talking to Annorel at the Ranger's Guild.

    Have you met any dwarves in your travels that you could talk to about getting into the mine?

    I hope those hints were light enough. The good news is, none of the missing amberstar pieces will take long to acquire once you're set on the right path.

    1. The one thing I was missing is that you have to proactively ask NPCs about AMBERSTAR. If I'd done that from the beginning, I wonder how it would have changed the order in which I found the pieces.

  5. probably too late, but has a complete map, the coordinates should fit perfectly ;)

    1. ecraven, These maps rock. Are you planning to do this for Ambermoon? If not, can you give me detailed information (or snippets of source) so that I can start work on the equivalent for Ambermoon? Thanks! Greg

  6. Got no clues for you, but some of those screenshot captions in this entry were gold! Back on point!!

  7. Hello Addict. I like to use Notepad++. There is a lot to be said of it, but one key thing here is any notes open and unsaved are constantly automatically saved as temporary files with the program. If it gets closed without saving, when you open it later all your notes are still there. OneNote is a nice option too.

    1. +1 (or should I say ++1) for Notepad++

    2. As much as I like Notepad++ as a text editor, it does not have the versatility of Excel (which if you have it though recurring subscription it also uploads all changes to the cloud in real-time) or OneNote though.

    3. Notepad is just one of those things that I can't bring myself to stop using despite knowing there's a better solution. I had an Evernote subscription for a couple of years, but I canceled it without ever really using it. Simple text files saved in a Dropbox folder so I can access them from my iPhone just work for me for whatever reason. Except when I forget to save them.

    4. That's why Notepad++ would work well for you. You wouldn't need to change your habits or subscribe to anything new. Just take a few minutes to download and install it and it works in place of Notepad. You still work with simple text files and save to Dropbox like before, but you get lots of extra features including protection from your computer shutting down with unsaved work.

    5. When you explain it like that, it seems ridiculous that I'm not going to do it. And I honestly can't tell you why I won't. I just know I won't.

    6. You can do it, Addict! I believe in you! :)

    7. +1 to notepad++, so versatile, so easy, so right.

    8. I started using Notepad++ when working on my website, since it showed if I closed HTML-tags. I also like the compare-function and you can even make it a hex editor. And compare hex files.
      Probably the solution to my idea of adding Sir Marillion to my party.

    9. I understand the reason: simpler or fewer features that aren't on the way or things that have to be done on the specific way the program intended to
      I'm a developer and still can't think of anything better and with higher raw power than vi and the linux terminal

    10. Another great feature of Notepad++ is the tabbed interface. It's a great little program.

    11. You folk are forgetting who you're dealing with.

      Chet definitely *shouldn't* try notepad++

    12. I wonder if it qualifies as an RPG? It's certainly more fun than some terrible Japanese console rubbish.

  8. That Dragon looks like 'Git offa my lawn ya hooligans!'

  9. A flying eye monster with one big central eye and four eyes on stalks is a spectator.

  10. The octopus bug is supposedly due to a translation issue to english where an extra 0 got added to their HP, so they have 800 hp instead of 80.

    1. That would make sense, I don't remember them being that hard in the German version. In the German/Amiga version, the temple wall opens up at the correct time, too. Maybe they switched it to US Central time during translation. ;)

    2. Or eastern time when we're not on daylight savings time? That's hilarious. I can't imagine a situation in which that makes sense, but the math does work out.

    3. What was funny to me was the time changed to about 5 pm. I felt like all the winged snakes just finished their office day jobs and now they were just heading home for the day.

    4. Octopodes have 999 life in my english version (the maximum amount of life points anything can have) as opposed to 120 in my german version. seems definitely like a bug.

      (life points are stored in chardata.vga offset 0x84 in each 0x8f1 long entry)

      Regarding the moving wall, the data files in the english version definitely move it into the path at 00:50 and open it up again at 23:50. Maybe dosbox is doing something strange with your local time? (See animated gif with timestamps at

    5. (fun fact, most other stats seem unaltered, but they also have 999 spell points :P)

  11. "How the dragon got it is a mystery."

    One of the notes in Jonathans laboratory tells you this.

  12. Thank you, everyone. I got the hints I need. I guess my mistake was not asking every NPC about AMBERSTAR, which probably should have occurred to me sooner.

  13. In general, I think the developers have done a good job in characterizing each dungeon, playing with their structure and content, also taking into account the graphics that are not exactly bleeding edge for 1992.

    The Pharaoh's tomb has a very Indiana Jones feel, the swamp station is a large maze of tunnels with mechanical contraptions barring the way, the two tunnels connecting different locations are very long and narrow, the wizard towers challenges range from the tame White to the deadly Black, while the riddlemaster tower is a series of small levels with the same shape...

  14. "Ship's End", huh? I wonder if this is a reference to Xebec's Demise. The CRPG Addict Ordinateuric Universe is in full swing!

  15. I'm very much enjoying this playthrough. I had an Amiga and I have vague memories of this game, but I don't think I ever played it.

  16. Reading your playthrough of Amberstar makes me realize the developers of The Legend of Grimrock 2 (probably my favorite of the recent batch of blobber throwbacks) probably borrowed more from this game than Dungeon Master 2, which I assumed was the primary inspiration. Having all those goals to chase after, and the option to leave one dungeon if it gets too much and try going after other shards for a while, is very similar to how TLoG2 was structured. I'm sorry I missed this one when it was new, but at least I discovered these devs eventually (through Albion).

  17. For me, the real excitement in open world RPGs is just wandering around finding things like houses and towns in the wilderness and finding things to do like conversations and quests that are more than simple copy pastes.
    Given the age of this game and the small team that would have worked on this - 2? 3? - I am impressed at how large the map is, how long and varied the story is and how the developers have created places to visit that you can just wander across that are more than just copy/pasted and with different flavour texts and conversations.

  18. "Speech saturated with sibilant hisses, Sansri praises the party's persistence, then assails us, assisted by eight winged snakes." This must be the greatest single sentence on the entire blog. The only way it could have been better is if there were a synonym for "winged" that has a bunch of S's in it.

    1. Ha. This was three years ago, so I don't really remember it, but yeah, I must have worked on that sentence for a while. Clearly I gave up with "eight winged snakes," finding neither a sibilant nor alliterative way to convey it.

    2. seven or so oscillating snakes? ;)


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